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Battle of the B-Sides: 2PM, P1Harmony, Kara, Sistar, Mirae

Battle of the B-sidesK-pop’s title tracks might gain most of listeners’ attention, but many album tracks are worth equal spotlight. I call these “buried treasures.”

Beyond this, K-pop’s albums deliver thousands of additional tracks that settle for a more limited audience. It’s these songs that will become a part of my “battle of the b-sides” feature.

In this feature, I’ll be putting on my A&R hat and taking a listen to five randomly-selected K-pop b-sides. I’ll write a mini review for each, including a Bias List rating, and rank them from least to most favorite. The winner will join a special Bias List B-side playlist. Think of it like my own little agency, hand-selecting songs I’d like to pitch to my nonexistent artists!

You can check out all rounds of my Battle of the B-sides here!


Battle of the B-sides: Round Fifty


2PM – Give U Class (2016)


2PM have a lot of great b-sides, both in Korean and Japanese. For me, Give U Class isn’t one of them. It’s a perfectly serviceable album filler, but the song doesn’t really go anywhere. I’m not a fan of the sluggish beat (even though it’s laced with some cool synth flourishes) and there’s not enough of a melodic pull to keep my attention. On the plus side, the guys sound great. But with 2PM, that’s to be expected.

 Hooks 7
 Production 7
 Longevity 8
 Bias 6
 RATING 7

P1Harmony – That’s It (2020)


P1Harmony’s albums are usually stuffed with interesting hip-hop tracks. I don’t always love them, but I think the group is very good at delivering them. That’s It harnesses a wonky, off-balance riff that gives its beat a great sense of movement. It becomes a little one-note as the song goes on, but I appreciate the idiosyncratic nature of the production. The rapping is a ton of fun and well-delivered and the simple hook works well.

 Hooks 7
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 7
 RATING 7.5

Kara – Tasty Love (2010)


It’s Kara in all their Sweetune-produced glory! Lupin is a great mini album with a killer title track, though it has at least three songs that I prefer to Tasty Love. At this point, Sweetune’s production (especially on their b-sides) tended to be a bit more hit and miss for me. Tasty Love feels foundational to much of their later work, but more like a sketch than the fully-realized music we’d get on their title tracks. Kara is in full sugary, saccharine mode. Thankfully, we’ve got jolts of electric guitar to counter the sweetness.

 Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 8
 RATING 8

Sistar – Bad Boy (ft. Mad Clown) (2015)


Have I mentioned how much I miss Sistar? For me, there has yet to be a girl group who can rival the strength of their vocalists (well… maybe Mamamoo but they often waste those vocals on so-so title tracks). Bad Boy is a gorgeous midtempo with an instantly-appealing melody and smooth, emotive vocal performance. Even a guest rap by Mad Clown (who isn’t always my cup of tea) doesn’t dull the experience. It’s a stately track that takes its time to dole out its many highlights.

 Hooks 9
 Production 8
 Longevity 9
 Bias 8
 RATING 8.5

Mirae – Amazing (2022)


Mirae just released a new album last week, but we’ll travel back to January for Amazing. I featured its companion Juice as a buried treasure, but Amazing almost could have been a contender as well. It’s not as melodically sharp, but I like its loping funk beat and smooth arrangement. Even so, this is quintessential b-side material and needs hookier songwriting to stand out. The bright vocals help give it some character.

 Hooks 8
 Production 8
 Longevity 8
 Bias 8
 RATING 8

My Verdict:


Fifth: 2PM – Give U Class
Fourth: P1Harmony – That’s It
Third: Mirae – Amazing
Second: Kara – Tasty Love

First: Sistar – Bad Boy (ft. Mad Clown)


Congratulations to Sistar’s Bad Boy – the fiftieth winner of my Battle of the B-sides!

Readers, what do you think? Did you discover any hidden gems? Leave your own ranking in the comments!

9 thoughts on “Battle of the B-Sides: 2PM, P1Harmony, Kara, Sistar, Mirae

  1. … quiet day today, yeah? It looks like starting tomorrow, kpop will be busy for about ten days, then nothing again. So you may as well plan some new series or a new installment of an old series. May I suggest more of the Legendary Songs. Or “New to kpop? Start here!”, which includes some of the same.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yeah, the industry is somehow stacking all its biggest releases on my busiest work days, so we’ll see how/if I can keep to my normal review schedule. Seriously, next Wednesday has five (!) releases scheduled already…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. What are some better 2pm b sides? Also my favorite b side from lupin is “umbrella” can’t wait for the kara reunion!

    Like

  3. funny how uve never gotten a single tbz song on this feature lmao………but if their song back 2 u (aka my fav emotional song of theirs) DID pop up on here what would u give it

    (aka niko the dumb deobi does dumb deobi things that no one asked for)

    Like

  4. This is officially the first Sistar b side I ever heard (pretty good). Their title tracks have always been enough for me

    Like

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